An Open Letter to Those who Grieve
So many of us are touched by your pain. We may have spent a sleepless night wondering how difficult this time of loss must be for you. We might have prayed for you countless times throughout the day as thoughts of your sorrow crept into our consciousness. Our appetite might have evaporated when we got the news of the death of your loved one. Then we begin to struggle, wondering how to reach out to you. We long to comfort you and support you. Yes, we even want to fix the pain and desire to make everything normal again. I know that we do much of this because we are uncomfortable with your suffering. But the point is, WE STILL CARE and we need desperately to keep learning the skills to show you we care.
Would you forgive?
As we take the risk to step into your pain, please forgive us when we say and do things that aren’t helpful. We don’t intend to harm. Some of us are less informed than others and sometimes reach out to you in ways that add to your suffering. We are so sorry for any contribution to your pain. We don’t intent to harm. Please forgive us and understand that we are often unsure about interacting with you. We are sorry when we bring flowers you didn’t want. We apologize for making thoughtless comments when we are trying to fill the awkward silence. We are also sorry for isolating you and leaving you alone when we should have drawn close and just given you a hug.
The Dance of Grief
This dance with you and your third partner-Grief is awkward. It is challenging. We won’t always get it just right. The important thing is that you know our hearts hurt with yours. Would you please communicate with us and help us understand what you are experiencing and what you need or want from us. We really do want to help. We are deeply concerned for your wellbeing. We’d like to be in step with your grieving experiences. It is just that our culture has not prepared us adequately to dance with those who mourn. We are open to learning, and this is why we need your help to let us know what you need most. We’ll follow your lead.
You are a One of a Kind
We understand that no two people grief alike. You have a unique temperament, personality, life experiences, and perspectives. That makes you different than anyone else. Therefore we know your grief will be one of a kind. Even if we were comfort experts, we would likely not completely meet your comfort needs just because we don’t know fully what you are experiencing. So help us out, and communicate with us so we can do a better job of meeting your needs. We get it that you might not even know what you need, so let’s agree to travel this journey together with lots of flexibility with one another. We seek awareness to interact with you in the way YOU need, not how we need. Please forgive us when we get that mixed up.
Dear grieving friend, we commit to being here with you, no matter if you get angry, depressed, close us out, or just need us to sit in silence with you, we are here for you through the long haul. It matters to us that your heart is broken. We too miss your loved one and we hurt watching you hurt. But we will not let our pain or uncomfortableness cause us to run from you. Instead, we are taking steps into your pain. We are committed to supporting you as you work through whatever season of grief you are facing.
Your faithful, supportive Friends